Cannes, International Festival of Creativity, 2012. An important year for the newly renamed and repositioned festival – one in which a new mobile category has been added to acknowledge the huge consumption of media that takes place on mobile devices, and a year in which it is the end result that is truly at the heart of the festival, not the discipline that got it there.
Against this backdrop, Arianna’s Huffington’s talk on day 2 of the festival seemed a bit dated to me. She outlined three key ‘megatrends’ for the future – trends which, according to some reports of her talk, would allow any business that took notice of them to ‘be successful’ in the future.
- A seismic shift from presentation to participation
- The ‘paradoxical shift’ from connecting through technology to disconnecting in order to ‘connect with ourselves’
- And lastly, connecting to technology to make the world a better place
The First Lady of Huff Po is someone who you sit up and listen to when she talks, but this one seemed a little wide of the mark.
Admittedly, Huffington conceded her first point wasn’t rocket science, so we can leave this one alone (not the best opener though).
Her second point uses the biblical analogy of the ‘snake’ to warn that hyper-connectivity can be a bad thing. She seems to make the point that not everything viral is actually worth sharing and that too much social media and technology can actually cloud what is important – the connection with ourselves and others. The latter point is a valid one – in a world where viral and share-ability is so cherished by marketeers, many content producers forget that the most important thing to remember is that there is always a human on the other end of the device. Is what you are sharing actually good content, or are you sharing/ creating for the sake of it. Don’t get caught up in the hype is the message.
And then Huffington sells to us. She promotes her new app ‘GPS for the Soul’ which aims to be a way for people to reconnect with their lives by personalising their app to show them their favourite pictures in moments of stress or by playing their favourite music. It actually sounds alright (and it’s free), but the point seems a bit flawed when there are a host of apps out there which allow us to remain connected to ourselves and each other (Facebook to name the obvious one).
Confusion is compounded by her thrid point in which she outlines that people are using technology not just to search out information, but to search for meaning and purpose in their lives. This is definitely a trend, but it is already happening and has been for more than a year, so can’t be a ‘megatrend’, surely? Technology have allowed people to do good for a long time, take the ’Just Giving’ app or the car-pool sharing websites in San Francisco, for instance.
Vintage Arianna Huffington this was not.